One of the things I am doing to better myself and find a place of normalcy inside my head, is to be involved in a book study with some of the guys from church. There are only three of us in this group, and I know both of them well enough but we are getting to know each other better with each meeting. As you might imagine a small group allows for relationship building, the whole idea. The book we are reading, again, is, Wild At Heart, by John Eldredge.
I have been through two “boot camps” based upon this book and participated in a book study with this book before, but this time I think I am getting it. What changed? Me! And our leader said, “We all have the field manual that goes along with this book, so let's answer those questions and come back each week prepared to talk about what we wrote.” Now consider that I have already been in a recovery group for nine months at this point. And I, with a little prompting, decided to answer the recovery questions that our manuals ask us with all the honesty I could muster. As you can imagine that was at first very difficult because you have to battle through a slew of emotions, especially when you have no self esteem, and you trust no one.
Recently, I had scrambled to get the questions answered for chapter four of the manual but could not get them all. Wouldn't you know it, the last thing he asked as he skipped around some of the questions was the last one. I had not made it that far and had not even looked at it. Just looking at the question made my heart sink. With the premise that dad is now dead and going through his effects, you find this letter addressed to you. The question started off with, “What would you have loved to hear from your father? … what would you long for it to say? Is there an apology? An affirmation? Then Eldredge asked us to write that letter. I could hardly speak. I could not do the question justice by improvising at that moment.
I took some time, finished the other questions, sat myself in the backyard and wrote that letter, sobbing most of the way through it. It seemed that as I wrote about various aspects of my youth, the very things that created this person I became, seemed to drain away. I cannot remember anything so freeing.
I have had to do some difficult things in recovery such as: writing and reading amends letters to people that I needed to say sorry too. This is especially hard when these same people created such havoc in me. But amends is not about the pain, or how they react to my amends; it has everything to do with my healing and relationship with God. One of those letters was to me, forgiving myself; I wrote it and read it to my sponsor, thinking that I would obtain a great release from the anguish I felt, but I felt very little. My sponsor suggested strongly that I go to the park, find a quiet place there, read it to God like a prayer, and then burn it; the silly thing resisted burning. Thinking back on my persistence at getting that paper to burn, perhaps there is a slow, gradual healing from it and I do not see it yet, and the idea that this paper resisted burning could be symbolic in many ways; one being the enemies resistance to release us from his grip.
Writing this letter from dad to myself was very emotional, and I think healing in many ways. I was so excited about what this started in me that I have been telling anyone that will listen what I did. Finally I am sensing some relief from the pains inside.
So, with that I am going to share this letter that I wrote with you.
The Letter I wish I had received.
I failed you and I am so sorry.
When you were young I failed to understand or care about why you were struggling in school. I wish I had pursued every avenue on your behalf. I had no idea how great the humiliation was going to be for you and how that would have effected you. I have been reading your writings since you began, and I see now that you would have been great for you do have a good mind and you could have done anything you wanted in life.
I am so sorry that I did not show you respect by not listening to what you had to say. Instead I believed the lies your brother told me and beat you for it. If only I had listened to you; you were trying to tell me so many things, and I refused to listen.
I failed you as a father by not coming to your aid when that thug slugged you in the face, and I humiliated you by locking you in the car with all my friends looking on. Son, please, I beg of you to forgive me for that.
Son, please forgive me for stepping aside as mom mentally emasculated you. I deeply regret not encouraging you to defend yourself, not only with your hands but with your words also. I can see how the damage carried carried all the way into manhood. I now know that if I had been the father you needed you would not have lived in fear, especially a fear of me. I would have worked with you as you learned to stand your ground. I did not know how to do this well, so we both would have learned.
Son, I would have had those talks with you about sexuality. Again, we both needed to learn something, but the biggest area effecting both of us, would have been the lesson on boundaries and how not to cross them. I am so sorry for I crossed yours all the time, and I did not prevent mom from crossing your boundaries either.
Given the chance to do it over we could have practiced communication skills; I by listening to you. Again, please forgive me. If I had known I would have done things so differently.
Son, it is never to late to say I love you, and I do. A lesson that I have learned to late is that a real man is not ashamed to show his love to his son, especially his first born.
I love you